Japan Holidays and Daily Life

Everyday life in Japan may come as a surprise for some people.

As with any foreign culture, it may take you a while to get used to how the people there do things.

Still, it’s important to understand the basics of Japanese culture before heading off to work, study, or live in Japan.

Let’s take a peek at daily life in Japan, along with the fun holidays and celebrations you can enjoy while you’re there.

Japanese Daily Life

Home

Family plays a very important role in Japanese culture.

In Japan, your identity is rooted in kazoku (華族), which means family or family lineage. Your obligations, reputation, and duties are tied to your family.

Japan even has a registry for family units—koseki (戸籍)

The koseki considers the household as a basic unit of society. It includes details about individual families, allowing citizens to understand their family history.

Many modern Japanese households consist of just the parents and kids. But it’s also common to see multi-generational households in Japan.

This means that grandmas, grandpas, and grandkids all live together in one house. The “heads” of the household, usually the dads, make money for daily needs.

Eating together is a big deal for traditional families. They also like attending fun festivals together throughout the year.

Traditional Japanese family unit
Family plays a major role in many traditional Japanese households. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

School

The Japanese school year runs from late March through April—the start of cherry blossom season.

In general, Japanese schools teach kids to value hard work and discipline. 

They hold activities that teach harmony, cooperation, and diligence to help kids adapt to society as they grow into adulthood.

Elementary students, for instance, prepare and serve lunch to their classmates every week.

Kids are taught to care for the environment through tasks such as cleaning classrooms, halls, and school grounds. Schools also teach teamwork and social skills through various extracurricular activities.

Japanese schools often have “culture clubs,” which include activities like brass band, chorus, arts and crafts, and theater.

This kind of well-roundedness, or the balance between academics, social skills, and cultural appreciation, makes Japan one of the best education systems in the world.

Japanese schoolchildren
Japanese schools emphasize hard work, discipline, and harmony. Image source: Pixabay

Work

Japanese work culture is all about loyalty and dedication to your job. Japanese employers value harmony and want everyone at work to get along!

In Japanese offices, it is polite to join after-work activities with your boss and coworkers. This is their way of building relationships and trust.

Of course, modern workplaces evolve with time. Work culture ultimately depends on where you decide to work.

Still, you must remember to respect your Japanese colleagues’ age and status, exchange business cards, and adhere to company dress codes—usually strict business attire.

You should also keep important Japanese practices in mind, such as being modest when communicating, bowing, and shaking hands.

Japanese workplace
Japan has a unique work culture that prioritizes cooperation and discipline. Image source: Pexels

Japanese Holidays and Celebrations

Japan’s calendar is filled with captivating celebrations and cherished traditions enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. 
Here are some of them:

 

Shōgatsu (正月) – New Year’s Day

This national holiday, which starts on New Year’s Eve or Ōmisoka(大晦日), is considered the biggest in Japan.
Shops, restaurants, and tourist spots are usually closed around this time, so mark your calendar for December 31 to January 3!
During this time, families bond and visit shrines together. 
They eat Osechi-ryōri (おせち料理)—a traditional meal encased in jūbako (重箱) or tiered boxes similar to bento boxes.
Many families also do ōsōuji (大掃除), which is a kind of spring cleaning for a fresh start ahead of the new year.

 

Seijin no Hi (成人の日) – Coming of Age Day

Are you about to turn 20 years old? That’s a pretty big deal in Japan!
Every second Monday of January, Japan celebrates anyone who reached 20 in the previous year.
The age of 20 marks one’s entry into adulthood. At this age, one starts to explore newfound freedom and responsibilities. 
New 20-year-olds attend Seijin Shiki (成人式)—the Coming of Age Ceremony—together with their families.
Families also go to shrines and pray for the young adult’s success. Some even do photoshoots with suits and kimonos!

 

Kenkoku Kinen no Hi (建国記念の日)– National Foundation Day

Japan celebrates its founding every February 11. It’s also the date of their first emperor’s ascension.
You can witness parades and flag-waving during this important celebration of Japanese history.

 

Hina Matsuri (雛祭り) – Girls’ Day or Doll’s Festival 

Japan celebrates Girl’s Day every March 3.
During Hina Matsuri, families who have girls display dolls at home. 
They also pray for the health and happiness of girls around Japan.

 

Shunbun no Hi (春分の日 ) – Spring / Vernal Equinox

Every March 20 or 21, Japan celebrates its ancestors and welcomes the arrival of spring.
To mark the arrival of spring—and the start of spring break for kids—people visit temples or the graves of ancestors.

 

Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク)

The summer season marks the most eventful week in Japan!
Held from April 29 to May 5, Golden Week consists of several national holidays: Shōwa no Hi(昭和の日)or Showa Day,  Kenpō Kinenbi(憲法記念日)or Constitution Memorial Day, Midori no Hi(みどりの日)or Greenery Day, and Kodomo no Hi(こどもの日) or Children’s Day. 
Golden Week is a popular time for travel, family outings, and long days of relaxation.
During Children’s Day, families with boys display dolls, fly koi-nobori (鯉のぼり) or carp streamers, and eat chimaki (粽, ちまき) dumplings and rice cakes called kashiwa-mochi (かしわ餅, 柏餅).

 

Tsukimi (月見) – Moon Viewing 

Held every August 15, Tsukimi is a time to appreciate the full moon and to pray for a good harvest.
To celebrate, people eat dumplings called tsukimi dango (月見団子) and lay out pampas grass and seasonal fruits.

 

Keiro no Hi (敬老の日) – Respect for the Aged Day

Keiro no Hi honors the elderly and expresses gratitude for their contributions to society.
It is celebrated on the third Monday of September.

 

Bunka no Hi(文化の日) – Culture Day 

November 3 is the best day to learn about Japanese culture.
Bunka no Hi is Japan’s Culture Day, which celebrates Japanese culture, arts, and academic achievements.
You can check out parades, ceremonies, and art exhibits throughout Japan during this time.

 

Tennō Tanjōbi(天皇誕生日) – The Emperor’s Birthday

Japan celebrates the current emperor’s birthday. As of 2023, this is February 23.
This is also one of the two days per year when the Imperial Palace of Japan in Tokyo opens to the public.
Other notable festivals include Setsubun (節分) or the spring Bean-Throwing Festival, Hanami (花見) or Cherry Blossom Festival, and the three-day Buddhist festival called Obon (お盆).
Japanese Holidays

Prepare for Your Life in Japan!

Life in Japan is a rich tapestry of traditions, history, and culture.
You can see it everywhere, from the day-to-day activities of Japanese locals to their grand, spectacle-filled national celebrations.
Be sure to delve deeper into Japan’s fascinating culture and, of course, experience it for yourself!
Are you planning to visit or live in Japan soon? Let us help you with your documents.
Elite Translations is a certified translation company that offers document translations for your travel and immigration needs.
Contact us today and get a free quote!
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